The 12 Most Watchable Video Game Movies
While stories, plots, and character development in video games is a longform effort, taking tens of hours to tell, movies only have--on average--two hours to do the same thing modern games do. So of course, movies are going to drop the ball when it comes to adapting your favorite Xbox title into a feature length film. Video games have become interactive movies, so how does Hollywood one-up that? They can't.
We all want there to be a good theatrical adaptation of our favorite gaming series. However, the vast majority of movies that have been put out have been ranging from mediocre to awful. With Detective Pikachu hitting theaters, the latest video game adaptation, we thought it would be a good time to look at other video game movies.
But instead of figuring out what's the "best" or "worst," we're taking a look at what's the most watchable or enjoyable to put on when you have free time. If you want rankings based on critics, that exists. This list is more about fun and entirely subjective. After you get done checking this out, let us know what your favorite video game movies are to watch.
12. Resident Evil: Extinction
Kicking this all if is the third movie in the Resident Evil franchise. Listen, I'll watch and rewatch this entire series until the end of time because these movies are fun. No, they're not good, but it's always a good flick to put on in the background while you get some work done around the house. I couldn't do that with Warcraft or Assassin's Creed--mainly because I would just get mad those movies exist in the first place. In Extinction, Alice and other Raccoon City survivors traveled through the desert to try and flee zombies and monsters on their way to Alaska. It feels like a big departure from the previous two films, but that's probably because it took place outside, and viewers saw the sun. You know what's coming in Extinction. Things will blow up, people will die, giant monsters will attack, and Alice will do some awesome flips. These are things you want to see.
If Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is in it, I'm going to see it, no matter how bad it is. Much like many on the films on this list, Doom doesn't so much follow the story of the video game as it does the beat of its own drum. In the future, a bunch of space marines head to a research facility on Mars where they have to track down a bunch of creepy creatures, who are mutated because of a Martian chromosome implemented with their own. That sounds exactly like the game, right? Not at all. However, it does feature people shooting monsters. It's a fun little romp, and Doom features an almost too long sequence of first-person shooting, which the perfect amount of chainsaw. The moment cradles the line between awesome and cringe-worthy, but that's only because the soundtrack for this movie is a sea of bad mainstream metal.
10. Super Mario Bros
Yes, Super Mario Bros. is a movie that identifies with its source material in the same way I identify with cosmic radiation 1,000 light years away. The feature length film has as much to do with its source material as I do with a door mat, we share names, and that's it. However, there is something delightful about this cringe-inducing disaster. Watching Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo play Mario and Luigi respectively, and trying to solve the world's problems through plumbing and stopping Dennis Hopper's devolution gun--while at the same time, trying to merge universes--is so stupid and ridiculous that it makes the movie a blast to watch. Yes, it's an outrageous insult to the Nintendo property, and it is a dumpster fire of a movie, but there is something magical about this pile of trash I love. Maybe it's because Mojo Nixon is in it.
9. Street Fighter
"I'm gonna kick that son-of-a-bitch Bison's ass so hard that the next Bison wannabe is gonna feel it." I have said this line, out loud, so many times, as an adult. I've also been known to spew out, "For you, the day Bison graced your village was the most important day in you life. But for me, it was Tuesday." Street Fighter doesn't really involve any fights in the streets, but it does try to whip up a convoluted story based oh so loosely on the video game characters while desperately trying to appeal to fans by randomly adding characters who don't fit into the story, like Blanka. You're not watching this for a good Street Fight movie. You're watching this because you want to watch a Jean-Claude Van Damme flick, but your copies of Bloodsport, Time Cop, Kickboxer, Universal Soldier, and The Quest are all damaged.
8. Silent Hill
Remember a time when Silent Hill was the best video game adaptation--mainly because we all forgot Resident Evil existed? I'd love to explain the plot to you, but I don't remember it, and I've seen this movie way too many times. A woman has to go to Silent Hill for some reason, and she ends up dead at the end, but she doesn't know she's dead. Something like that, right? Then why is it on this list? The visuals. I've never played a Silent Hill game hoping for a dynamite story. I want creepy-looking things to jump out at me, and I want to try and run from them, since fighting is the dumbest thing you can do in that series.
7. Need for Speed
By 2014, the Fast and Furious series had become less about racing cars and so much more about creating movies that the staff of GameSpot will never stop talking about. Seriously, this series is bonkers in the best way possible. That left a hole in the "people driving fast cars" genre, which Need for Speed delightfully filled. Obviously, the video game needed a story as "get from Point A to Point B real fast" won't make for an interesting movie alone. Aaron Paul stars as an ex-con, freshly released from prison who is framed and partakes in a cross-country race. Sure, it's a predictable romp, but that doesn't make it any less fun. Who doesn't want to see car crashes and high-octane stunts in a movie that somehow broke the two hour mark? Seriously, it's two hours and twelve minutes long. But the movie moves quickly, and you could say the pacing has a need for speed? I'll see myself out.
6. Tomb Raider
Third time's a charm, right? As far as video game movies go, the Tomb Raider films are in the middle of the pack. They're not amazing, but they're not terrible. Yes, that includes Cradle of Life. They just exist in this realm of "We did it! We made a movie!" However, out of all three of the movies where tombs are allegedly raided, 2018's take on Lara Croft is the best one to watch, and you know what? Alicia Vikander is the best part of this movie, playing Croft. Sure, the action sequences are solid, and there are some interesting visual effects, but Vikander steals the show. Tomb Raider is a movie you sit back, eat popcorn, and watch. It's "turn off your brain" entertainment.
5. Mortal Kombat
Unlike Street Fighter, which was released the year prior, Mortal Kombat felt a lot more in-tune with the story from the video games. In fact, it felt like a real solid adaptation at the time. Sure, the techno-driven audio-madness of the soundtrack and the near-claymation levels of CG did not age well and, for some reason, Christopher Lambert plays Raiden, but the movie is still a ton of fun to watch, and not in the "let's make fun of this atrocity" way. It's most certainly a product of its time, but that is not a bad thing by any means. It has everything you want from a Mortal Kombat movie: people punching each other, four-armed monstocities, an arrogant Johnny Cage, and Lui Kang blasting a fireball--in the final moments of the movie.
4. Resident Evil
The Resident Evil franchise is a mess. Let's not beat around the bush. Is it unwatchable trash? Not by any means. The first movie is a lot of fun, and it has the most RPG-esque story. Lead character with amnesia who ends up being a talented warrior? Check. Evil corporation who accidentally destroys the world? Check. Computer system whose avatar is a child? Check. I don't know how much that last one is used in RPGs, but it feels straight out of Final Fantasy. Resident Evil mixes horror, big-budget action, and suspense incredibly well, and it is a movie you can watch again and again. However, it isn't the most watchable of the zombie video game movies. That award goes to something else.
3. House of the Dead (With Director Commentary On)
I know what you're thinking, "This trashbag of a movie is ranked way too high." Hear me out. Have you ever watched House of the Dead with the audio commentary on? Director Uwe Boll's commentary for this film is amazing. One of my favorite moments is when he talks about House of the Dead as the greatest zombie movie of all time because his zombies look the most realistic. That's a hot take only one person has. Additionally, later in the film, he explains why he overused the rotoscoping technique--a critical moment in the movie where we get to see how cool the characters look. House of the Dead is a tremendously awful movie, but Boll's commentary is one of my favorite commentary tracks of all time. The film doesn't have the quality of story or plot of even the worst Resident Evil Movie, but it does have the wonderful ramblings of Boll. Thank you, Mr. Boll for your audio commentary tracks. Also, thanks for inexplicably putting video game footage into the movie. It makes me laugh, every time.
Note: Without the commentary, this movie wouldn't be on the list.
The disaster movie genre should be dead. It's existed predominantly in mainstream movies for too long, and what's left for the viewer to watch be destroyed? For some bizarre reason, Rampage works, and it works so well. Based on a video game which has the story of "giant monsters are punching movies," Rampage took that concept and made it the third act of the film. The rest of the movie centers around regular animals becoming these beasts, an evil corporation behind it, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson being awesome. It is purely a popcorn movie that is fun to watch from beginning to end, and that's all we really want from a summer blockbuster.
1. Detective Pikachu
Maybe it's the fact that I've played Pokemon games since they've existed in America, but there is no story I'd less like to see than some kid becoming Pokemon master and collecting badges through battle. I have played through that story way too many times. Luckily, Detective Pickachu totally isn't that. It's something entirely different, and while the movie does spend a lot of time trying to jam Pokemon into every shot, that's a fun little Easter egg hunt for viewers.
In his review, GameSpot's Mike Rougeau said, "Detective Pikachu should prove enjoyable for any and all Pokémon fans, young or old. It presents fun answers to the fantasy of what life would be like if Pokémon were real. It introduces new wrinkles to the world of Pokémon, although not all of them completely work. Still, as the first official live-action trip to the world of Pokémon, Detective Pikachu presents characters I want to see again and a setting I'd like to return to."